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Yes Man (2008)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 4/7/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/30/2009

There are many actors who are routinely stars of movies. However, despite the designation of "star" these actors share the screen with their fellow thespians and act as part of an ensemble. They may have top billing and they often have scenes where they are the center of attention, but they keep it under control. Jim Carrey does not fall into this category. He takes over his movies and the other actors are forced to try and keep up with him. Therefore, if you don't like Jim Carrey, you probably won't like his movies. This is certainly the case with his latest project, Yes Man.

Carrey stars in Yes Man as Carl Allen, a timid bank employee who likes to spend his free time home alone watching movies. His friends try to get him to go out, but since his divorce, Carl has been very closed off and says no to every invitation and opportunity. Carl runs into an old friend, Nick (John Michael Higgins), who convinces Carl to attend a seminar featuring Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp), a guru who urges people to say "yes" to life. Carl is very resistant at first, but he soon embraces the idea. Soon, Carl is saying "yes" to everything that comes his way and he finds himself involved in all sorts of crazy activities. Through a chain of events, he meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel), a singer/photographer who's open-mindedness and free-spirit matches Carl's new mind-set. But, will his new hesitancy to say "no" get him into situations from which he can't escape?

If you've seen the trailer for Yes Man, then you already have a pretty good idea of what the movie has to offer. This is Jim Carrey's vehicle -- there is no doubt about that. As with many of his past comedies, Carrey is asked to cut loose here and that's exactly what he does in many scenes, especially the Red Bull scene. Of course, at the outset, he plays things very calm and moppish, but once Carl begins to say yes to everything, Carrey is able to unleash his inner wild man. From there, the movie borders on becoming a series of vignettes in which Carl gets involved in one unusual situation after another. The powers-that-be behind Yes Man have wisely decided to surround Carrey with unusual calm actors who do a great job of setting the stage for him. Bradley Cooper and a slightly miscast Danny Masterson plays Carl's only friends, who come to regret their wishes that he would come out of his shell. Ironically Zooey Deschanel is actually more upbeat here than usual, but her pixie-like nature still pales when compared to Carrey's energy. The only real miscue in this realms is Rhys Darby who plays Carl's boss. Looking like a cross between Hugh Jackman and Austin Powers, Darby is meant to be annoying and then endearing...but he never quite made it to endearing.

There were two things about Yes Man which surprised me. First, the film is more serious and safe than I had expected. The film contains a very good message about opening one's self to new opportunities and really living life, but it gets too somber at times. Also, while Carrey is able to spread his comedic wings and go nuts in some scenes (such as the mattress scene), the film is no where near as zany as I had expected. On a positive note, the screenplay by Nicholas Stoller and Jarrad Paul & Andrew Mogel, based on the book by Danny Wallace is much more cohesive than I would have thought. While the film is just a string of occurrences triggered by Carl saying yes, many of them become entwined in very clever ways.

While Jim Carrey's madcap comedies can blur together at times, Yes Man can easily be compared to Liar, Liar as they both have somewhat similar premises. The difference is that Liar, Liar was directed by Tom Shadyac, who would simply turn on the camera and let Carrey go, whether it made sense or not. Under the director of UNC alum Peyton Reed, Carrey is reined it a bit and the movie actually suffers for this. Go ahead and say yes to Yes Man, but don't expect it to become your new favorite Jim Carrey movie.

Yes Man gives the affirmative to DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only slight grain and no defects from the source material. Also, in daytime exterior scenes, the image looks somewhat hazy. The colors are good and the image is never overly dark or bright. Despite the other flaws, for a DVD, the depth and detail are good. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and noticeable and there is some subtle bass at times. However, the surround mix is far too weak and what we do get simply mimics the front channels.

The Yes Man DVD contains only a few extras. "Downtime on the Set of Yes Man with Jim Carrey" (4 minutes) has brief comments from Carrey and Director Peyton Reed, but it's made up mostly of on-set footage of Carrey acting silly. "Jim Carrey: Extreme Yes Man" (12 minutes) shows how the actor does some of his own stunts in the film, or how movie magic makes it appear that he's risking his life. Several key scenes from the film are explored here. "Future Sounds: Munchausen by Proxy" (5 minutes) is a faux music documentary which explores the history and sound of Allison's band. This is followed by "Exclusive Munchausen by Proxy Music Videos" (14 minutes) which are simply the scenes from the movie where we see the band performed combined with what are presumably deleted scenes which would have featured other songs. The extras are rounded out by a 6-minutes GAG REEL.

Warner Home Video has also brought Yes Man to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc carries a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing virtually no grain, no defects from the source material, and none of the haze seen on the DVD. The colors are very good, and I noted that oranges where quite bold. The picture shows very good depth and detail and the brightness is well-balanced. Surprising for a Blu-ray, I noted some haloes around the actors. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As with the DVD version, this is a lackluster mix. I put on Slumdog Millionaire just after watching Yes Man and was blown away by the audio -- thus making me realize just how drab the sound on this Disc is. The stereo effects are fine, and there's a few moments where the subwoofer gets in on the action, but the surround sound is flat, even in crowd scenes.

The Yes Man Blu-ray Disc contains the same extras as those found on the DVD, plus some exclusive ones. "On the Set with Danny Wallace: The Original Yes Man" (9 minutes) has the author of the film's source material touring the set and chatting with some of the cast and crew, including Carrey and Reed. "Say 'Yes' to Red Bull" (2 minutes) examines the scene where Carl is hopped up on energy drinks and we see that Carrey actually had a Red Bull for the seen. "Yes Man: Party Central with Norman Stokes (Rhys Darby)" (2 minutes) has the actor touring the set of his character's apartment and telling us more about Norman. The Blu-ray contains 8 ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 8 minutes. Most of these are short and benign, but the one which shows a slightly alternate ending is interesting.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long